For my entire life, I’ve kept forgetting one really important thing: people who love you keep showing up. And if they can’t, they make sure you know why instead of just ghosting on you.
Let me back up. This weekend, the dude and I had a little housewarming shindig. We’ve been living together for over a year, but our studio was way too small to host more than two people, so this was our first time throwing a party together. (And we nailed it.) We had a great mix of people, including my friends’ kids, and it was so cool to see friends from different worlds talking to each other.
At one point, I was looking around the room and I realized that I had known all of my gathered friends for over six years, and in some cases almost twelve. And it blew my mind. I’ve always thought of myself as this person who never really had a group of friends that they belong to. Someone who just has scattered friendships from different times in my life. And I’ve always been ok with that, as my introvert nature gets super tired after dinner with one person and I pretty much don’t “grab drinks” anymore. But in looking at all of these people gathered to celebrate something in my life that I’m so happy about, I was so touched. I’ve written before about how I feel like I can see the life I want ahead of me, but I actually got to experience it, and it was so amazing. I spent half the time with one kid or another on my hip, at one point talking to a friend of mine from NYU while moving in huge swaying bounces to calm my nephew. There was so much laughter. It was awesome.
A couple of really important things were reinforced for me during this experience, the first being that my friends still care about me and still want to be part of my life even though I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen each of them in the last two years. This was the first time I’ve been in a big group of people – aside from my family – who know about my struggles with anxiety, and it was so reassuring to be able to just be myself and fall right back into our friendships. It was so heartwarming to know that all of these people care about me, support me, and will show up for me no matter what. I felt so lucky.
Equally cool was the fact that I felt no anxiety. At all. Not the day before, not while we were prepping and cleaning, not while we were waiting for people to arrive. My instinct here is to give the credit to the dude’s calming influence (and that was definitely part of it), but it was also me. All of my hard work over the last two years has started to settle into habits and perspective shifts that (I hope) I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m really proud of the effort I put into my own healing.
And for the first time in long time, I feel like my default is to look forward instead of back. I’m one of those people who can just get lost in nostalgia for days on end, but I don’t find myself doing that so much anymore. All of the different techniques and things I used to manage the anxiety force me to really be in the moment, to sit with that uncomfortable feeling, and I’m finding that that’s allowing me to really sit with the joy, also. So many times during our housewarming I would look around at friends or get a little smile from the dude, and it was so cool to be able to really feel the happiness in that moment instead of to project it onto the memory.
Wherever you are in your journey with anxiety, it gets better. It may not be all better all the time, but it does get better. Please keep trying, keep working, keep asking for help.